If your child readily helps around the house, then you can consider yourself unusual. For the majority of kids, however, household chores are hardly at the top of their priorities.
Getting your children to do chores is actually more than just getting some much-needed help. Chores actually teach our children important life skills. It teaches them how to be part of a team, and how each member of that should contribute for the good of that team.
If your child doesn’t help out quite the way you’d like them to, here are some of the possible reasons.
1. They hardly have the time
If you look at the kind of workload our kids get from school these days, this is actually a legitimate reason. They spend the whole day in school, and spend the rest of the day doing homework. Add to that various activities like sports and music, and you have one very tired child at the end of the day.
Then again, your child isn’t in school 24/7, so it wouldn’t be too much to ask them to give them small responsibilities that wouldn’t take more than an hour of their time. Helping set the table for dinner or doing the dishes afterwards shouldn’t be much of a problem. When school’s out in the summer, give your child even bigger responsibilities. After all, he or she has all the time in the world by then for more chores that will not just give them the chance to contribute to the household but also help them pick up a few life skills in the process.
2. They don’t like doing chores
It’s probably safe to say that this is the default attitude of children when it comes to chores. If you have a child who professes a love for housework, then your child belongs to a rare breed. Most kids hate doing chores because they’re boring, which isn’t really an idea that’s strange to adults.
In order to make your children not hate chores, you have to find ways to make it fun for them. Make pairing up socks a race. Whoever gets the table to shine brighter wins. Making chores an enjoyable thing for them doesn’t even have to be all about turning them into games. It can also be about connecting with one another. When you ask your child to do chores, go ahead and do it with him or her. Play his/her favourite song, and you can both sing along to the song while washing the dishes or sweeping the floor. Impress it upon them that there is joy in doing chores together, and don’t forget to make them feel appreciated for it.
3. You’d rather do the chores yourself because it’s easier that way
Obviously, kids can’t really perform tasks to your satisfaction upon their initial attempts, so you just shoo them away because they will only be delaying things. In addition, kids can be not thorough in their tasks, which means you will have to finish it yourself anyway, so why bother asking them to do it?
In any case, you still need to ask them to do chores because it will benefit them in the long run. So the best thing you can do is start them young. True, you can expect to be spending a lot of time teaching them how to do things properly, but all that time and effort will be worth it. And if they aren’t really as thorough as you would like when doing their chores, don’t get mad at them. After all, were you really that thorough at that age?
To help them become more thorough with their chores, you need to break them down into smaller steps which they can master one by one. Once they master those tasks, it’s time for you to start letting go and letting them take full responsibility for them. Don’t go cramping their style, so to speak. Just let them do it, and just be thankful for the fact that they are actually doing it. Resist the urge of redoing their work—especially if they can see you do it—because they would naturally assume that since you’re redoing everything anyway, why should they bother trying?
4. You criticize their work all the time
When your kids do a chore and you keep hovering and criticizing everything they do, it wouldn’t be a surprise if your kids lose interest in actually helping around the house. Just think how you’d feel if your immediate supervisor keeps on correcting you even as you work. It’s hardly the most pleasant feeling in the world.
Still, you are going to have to supervise your kids doing chores, especially at the beginning. What you need to do then is always find the positive in what they’ve done. Express appreciation for the work, but in a calm voice and demeanor, show your kids again how to do it, and tell that they’ll be doing it right the next time. And when that happens, never forget to compliment them for a job well done.
5. You give up when they constantly complain or whine
Kids will always be kids. They have a lot on their minds, and it’s but natural for them to forget their responsibilities at home. It’s also natural for them to complain about their tasks, especially when they come into conflict with other things that a child normally does like playing outside or being with friends. Complaining will always come with the territory and it’s something you should expect.
What you shouldn’t do, however, is to give up and just let them go through life without doing chores. We know it’s exasperating to listen to them whine, but you have to continue reminding them of their responsibilities, no matter what. If you can, do it with your own brand of humor, and with the right amount of cheerfulness. Let them complain, and just keep your sense of humor through it all. Keep it up, and the chores will eventually become a habit for them. Who knows, they might already be too tired to whine by then.
We can never expect our kids to put household chores at the top of their priorities, but putting a lot of effort into having them help around the house just the same will, over time, help them turn doing chores into a habit. For all their constant complaining, kids eventually rise to the challenge and will perform their responsibilities, even without you reminding them. And when your child reaches this stage, you know you have someone making a significant contribution to the household.